Adventure Education - Three Types of Fun
Those of you who know me know that I am studying adventure education (AE) here at Prescott College (PC). But for those of you who are new to the school, and for family and friends who still have no idea what "studying adventure education at Prescott College" means, I thought I would share a little bit about what that looks like with you.
I would like to say that AE is not all fun, hiking, kayaking, camping, canoeing, rock climbing, and traveling in and through beautiful wild places that few people ever see. And it’s true; not all of it is. There is, in fact, a good deal of pedagogical and theoretical research, reading, writing, skills assessments, and even (gasp) tests. Granted, many of the test scenarios at PC take the form of demonstrations of your competence – or presenting your research findings to others – but make no mistake, you are tested.
The truth of the matter is that those of us who have formally chosen AE as our competence (or Major, for the PC uninitiated) are usually having fun. We want to know how and why using adventure as an educational model to reach learning outcomes works. We want to understand the psychological and pedagogical research that supports the use of overcoming physical and mental challenges to achieve learning. We want to learn the history of adventure education. We want to be outdoor educators, and guides, and teachers, and instructors. We want to be good at what we do, and to help others improve their health, their education, and their lives in the process. So it's all fun of one type or another.
The fact that we have fun learning and teaching our chosen course of study is simply a byproduct of our choice to study and teach what we love doing. But, not all fun is fun. Anyone who lives the life of an adventure education student or educator has heard of “the fun scale.” There is Type 1 Fun, Type 2 Fun, and Type 3 Fun. This scale can be applied to everything in life.
Type 1 Fun involves instant gratification: the taste of good food, the sight of a beautiful sunset, getting an “A” in a class you thought you weren’t doing well in. Type 2 Fun describes things that you think were fun when you look back on them, but might not have seemed as fun while you were “in the moment.” An example would be successfully completing a difficult rock climbing route that scared the hell out of you the entire time you were climbing, or the long and sometimes exposed hikes PC students take on a Grand Canyon Wilderness Orientation – which also includes life-changing views of the canyons and mountains.
Then there’s Type 3 Fun. Type 3 Fun is not fun at all, but will leave a strong memory with you forever. Type 3 Fun makes you wonder why you do what you do and swear that you will never do anything that stupid again. Getting stuck in a lightning storm on top of a mountain top is Type 3 Fun. When you look back on it years later, you may remember reaching the summit of the mountain and surviving the ordeal, but you will never remember it as fun.
Studying and teaching AE involves all three types of fun. Sometimes Type 3 Fun is necessary to have Type 2 or Type 1 Fun. AE students and educators accept that. In reaching the goal of becoming employed at doing what we love, in places we love, and helping improve the quality of life for ourselves and others, all three types of fun are worth the results.